Tips for Applying to Vet School
The popularity of veterinary medicine has created a highly competitive admissions process for the available seats in each vet school class. Most of the 30 vet schools in the United States, as well as several international programs, utilize the Veterinary Medical College Application Service (VMCAS) to streamline the admissions process. This centralized service allows students to submit their information to multiple schools by creating a single application.
The VMCAS application is certainly an important part of the process, but there are several additional things to consider when applying to vet school. Here are some of our most important tips for the vet school application process:
Find Out Each School’s Admission Requirements
Make sure you have taken the required courses for each school you are applying to. While most requirements are similar, the specifics do vary somewhat from one school to the next.
Document Your Experience
Keep a log that documents your hours working in a vet clinic as well as all other animal-related internships and volunteer activities. Be sure you gain experience working with both small and large animals if possible. Make yourself a well-rounded candidate.
Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute to Start Your Application
Be well aware of the deadline for applications and be sure to have your application materials completed early. Applications through the VMCAS service are usually accepted beginning in May or June, with the deadline being early October. There are many sections that are required and it can take a significant amount of time to complete all areas.
Ask for Letters of Recommendation Early
It is important that you ask for letters of recommendation well in advance of the deadline so your mentors will have plenty of time to complete the task. You will need a letter from at least one veterinarian for whom you have worked.
Carefully Craft Your Personal Statement
Pay special attention to your personal statement, which is a response to a prompt about your background and career goals. This is your one chance to personalize your application and show the acceptance committee what you might bring to the profession if selected.
Take Required Tests as Soon as Possible
Take any required tests early so you have time to re-test if your scores are not as high as they need to be for acceptance. Most vet schools require the computer-based GRE (Graduate Record Exam), though some schools also accept the MCAT. It is a good idea to take GRE practice classes and get a practice test book. You need to be thoroughly prepared.
Apply to Select Schools
You should only apply to the schools you are truly interested in attending. This involves a bit of research on your part, and it is also wise to attend open houses and other events at each school if possible. Applying to a dozen or more vet schools is costly and doesn’t really increase your chances. Your best chance of acceptance is generally at an in-state school or one that has a reciprocity agreement with a neighboring state.
Become Familiar with the VMCAS Online Application System
You should take some time to explore the VMCAS web portal and learn about the procedures you will need to follow to submit and pay for your applications. There are several pages of instructions and many subsections that should be carefully reviewed.
Be Prepared for Your Interview
Preparation for your interview is critical. This is the final stage of the admissions process and carries a great deal of weight with the acceptance committee. Have creative answers ready for commonly asked questions like “why are you interested in veterinary medicine” or “why are you interested in this particular school?” You should also try to find out what sort of interview your schools of interest plan to conduct -- phone, panel, multiple mini interviews (MMI), etc. Dress nicely and do your best to appear calm and collected when meeting the interview panel.
Have a Backup Plan
You should also develop a backup plan in case you do not get accepted on your first try. It is fairly common for prospective students to go through the application process two or even three times before gaining entrance to a veterinary program. There are many things you can do while waiting to reapply. You could work at a veterinary clinic, take additional classes to raise your GPA, become a licensed veterinary technician, complete more internships, or participate in more leadership activities.